Destination: Wedding

Photo by Rene Minnis Photography

Mainers are making Maine a destination to wed. In addition to couples who choose Maine’s beauty for their nuptial backdrop, Mainers are increasingly coming home to wed.

“It appears that destination weddings in Maine are increasing and becoming a more important part of our tourism base,” stated Carolann Ouellette, director of the Maine Office of Tourism.  She noted that past visitors seem to have developed a strong connection to Maine, “whether it be from attending a summer camp or college here or just taking in our beautiful scenic backdrop.”

Jessica Donahue, director of marketing & promotions at the Greater Bangor Convention & Visitors Bureau, agreed that their office “definitely has seen a pick up in destination weddings in Maine over the last couple of years.”

She considers the New England Outdoor Center as a good example of a destination wedding.  It offers both cozy and deluxe cabins on Millinocket Lake with spectacular views of Mt. Katahdin and “plenty of outdoor activities,” Donahue stated.

Maine-made destination
When making Maine a destination to wed, couples should first begin by booking a reception venue, said Mackie Hill, owner and event designer of Simply Unforgettable Events by Mackie in Bangor. Important things to consider include the season when the wedding will be held, the geographic area, the type of venue, and its popularity.

According to Hill, the first big thing to accomplish is contracting all major vendors ASAP. This is especially important for destination brides — be they in-state or out-of-state.

Hill recommends that couples who are getting married during July through September — the height of Maine’s wedding season — start talking with their preferred caterer “a year to eight months prior to your wedding date.  Some caterers do wedding cakes and some do not.  Find that out early so you know whether you need to book a pastry chef in addition to a caterer,” she said.

She also encourages couples to book the church around the same time as the reception venue “as they tend to fill up their calendars just as fast, especially if it is a cathedral or grand style church.” Ditto for popular bands, musicians, and DJs. and “a good florist who can meet your budget needs, and still provide breathtaking arrangements,” she said.

Couples should have a pre-wedding meeting with the minister to get all parties on the same page. For non-traditional weddings, couples should confirm the officiant is comfortable with the service. For a more intimate service, Maine allows marriages to be performed by a notary public.

“Couples can choose to have a friend or family member become notarized to perform their ceremony for them,” she said.

Hill noted that hiring a wedding event planner can be a stress-reliever for a couple from away. “An event planner can be your voice, eyes, ears and negotiator with your venue and vendors,” she said.

Out-of-state with a State of Maine mindset
“Our state’s welcome sign should read: ‘Welcome to Maine: Your Wedding, Your Way,’” Amber Small, co-owner of Sweetest Thing Weddings, said.

Small is in the process of planning the logistics for a wedding “in a field in the middle of nowhere on a 250-acre horse farm.”  Her “To Do List” includes getting a generator so there will be light for guests when the sun goes down.

“In Maine, we’re used to using good old Maine ingenuity to solve whatever problems may arise,” she said. “A $10,000 wedding goes a lot further in Maine than it does in [New York or Las Vegas].”

To ensure that her couples enjoy their wedding, their way, Small brainstorms with and carefully listens to them to prioritize their wants for their special day; and designs a plan that suits them, while sticking to their budget. Once the planning is done, Small instructs her couples “to have fun and enjoy the journey.”

Giving guests the Maine experience.
For guests coming from out-of-state, offering discounted rooms, out-of-town bags with Maine goodies, a list of things to do and places to explore will welcome them to Maine, Mackie says.  “They’ll appreciate why you wanted them to come here for your special wedding day.”

By Elizabeth Webster